weird off flavour, possibly water?

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weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby HTH1975 » Sat Jan 30, 2016 16:16

I've done three brews to date and they've all had the same 'tart' flavour that develops after the initial taste of the beer. Its not a particularly nice taste and spoils an otherwise decent brew. It reminds me of citric acid - if you have some citric acid, dab a few granules on your tongue and thats similar to what I'm experiencing.

My first brew was a LME kit made with Tesco Ashbeck water totally untreated.

My second/third brews were just tap water, boiled and treated with a campden tablet.

My water report is as follows:

* calcuim (Ca): 93mg/l (hard, alkaline). This is within 50-100mg/l target range and this apparently has little effect on beer taste anyway.
* magnesium (Mg): 16mg/l. This is within 0-30mg/l target range, so unlikely to give 'sour' taste.
* sodium (Na): 16mg/l.
* sulphate (SO4): 105mg/l. This is within 0-150mg/l target range, so unlikely to give 'sharp' taste.
* chloride (Cl): 19mg/l.
* carbonate (CO3): 333mg/l - I understand that this is considered very high ???
* CaCO3: 233mg/l.

I suppose the problem is that the water report might not reflect what I'm getting out of the tap. I'm thinking of paying for a water test. Any thoughts on this?

The calculator at 'thehomebrewfourum' suggests I add 95ml of carbonate reducing solution to the 33 litres of water I'll use in a typical 40 pint batch. Is this just phosphoric acid?

If there is anyone willing to sample my first brew to identify the 'off' flavour, I could send a bottle in the mail. Alternatively, anyone local ('ish) to Thirsk can drop round for a beer and a chat.

Many thanks in advance for comments/suggestions/help.

2016: 330L brewed (72 gallons, over 8 firkins)
2017: 105L brewed (need to update this figure)
Drinking: Landlord clone
Conditioning: ciders from 2016, hedgerow barrolo, 1914 Courage RIS (10%).
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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby Aleman » Sat Jan 30, 2016 16:25

Sour sharp, is a classic infection. .possibly lactobacilus, possibly acetobacter, but you should be able to identify that by smell classic vinegar.

You have used two different sources of water so it is unlikely to be water.

Just remember that apart from minor flavour tweaks water treatment is unnecessary for 'kits' . . it's real use is for All grain beers. . . .

If your alkalinity truly is 233, then yse you will have to add a lot of CRS - or any other acid to reduce it down to 50 or less.

If you are kit brewing, and getting a 'off taste' go back to basics, for kit brewing tesco ashbeck is ideal as 'in theory' the manufacturer of the extract will have taken care of the water treatment during mashing to make the kit. all the ions you need are already present in the kit. Use good quality kits and take care over the disinfection process of your kit. . . when you produce a beer without the off taste you know you have cracked it.

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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby BarnsleyBrewer » Sat Jan 30, 2016 16:25

The tart taste could be from oversparging or sparging with excessively hot water? I sparge at around 75c

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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby HTH1975 » Sat Jan 30, 2016 16:30

It doesn't smell like vinegar - the smell is fine, good hop aroma.

Oversparging wouldn't affect the first beer, as it was an extract kit. I doubt it would affect my AG brew either as OG on the runnings was 1020'ish - I only sparged for about 20 minutes.

Trying to understand and nail this weird sharp off flavour as I thought it was probably just the kit, but seems its something else. Could it be the no-rise sanitiser? - that was common to both brews.

2016: 330L brewed (72 gallons, over 8 firkins)
2017: 105L brewed (need to update this figure)
Drinking: Landlord clone
Conditioning: ciders from 2016, hedgerow barrolo, 1914 Courage RIS (10%).
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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby robwalker » Sat Jan 30, 2016 19:39

It could be residual acid based sanitizer I guess. Starsan made up properly is tangy like coca cola. No rinse in some sanitizers means it degrades to harmless...stuff...and for example, perecetic acid apparently takes 10-20 mins to be truly no rinse.

As a few have said, a combo of bottled water the first time and boiled treated water the second time pretty much rules your water out. Kits as it's already been mentioned are ideally brewed, so that rules out the kit for the most part. But an infection may present itself differently and in different intensities, so wouldn't quite rule that out yet.
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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby HTH1975 » Sat Jan 30, 2016 22:02

would it be likely to get the same kind of infection in three different brews and in different primary fermentation vessels? - it seems unlikely.

I'd ideally like to send someone a sample bottle so they can taste and identify the problem. The beer is drinkable, I've had about 20 bottles, but it could definitely be better.

Any takers?

2016: 330L brewed (72 gallons, over 8 firkins)
2017: 105L brewed (need to update this figure)
Drinking: Landlord clone
Conditioning: ciders from 2016, hedgerow barrolo, 1914 Courage RIS (10%).
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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby cononthebarber » Sat Jan 30, 2016 23:53

Do you use a hose for your water? Check it is food safe, could be leeching a flavour from the house if not?

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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby HTH1975 » Sun Jan 31, 2016 01:28

On my first brew I used bottled water and an extract kit.

On my second brew it was tap water and pump to recirculate the wort. The hose is the braided stuff and is food-safe (got it from a home-brew shop).

There seems to be no common denominator to link why I'd get this same 'off' flavour.

2016: 330L brewed (72 gallons, over 8 firkins)
2017: 105L brewed (need to update this figure)
Drinking: Landlord clone
Conditioning: ciders from 2016, hedgerow barrolo, 1914 Courage RIS (10%).
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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby cononthebarber » Sun Jan 31, 2016 01:31

I can test a beer for you, I'm by no means an expert but can maybe give you some ideas? Will pm my address if you want to send one?

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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby HTH1975 » Sun Jan 31, 2016 01:51

cononthebarber wrote:I can test a beer for you, I'm by no means an expert but can maybe give you some ideas? Will pm my address if you want to send one?


Yes, that's cool with me - always happy to get a second opinion. If anyone else wants to have a bottle sent out, I'm good to send a bottles to s few people.

2016: 330L brewed (72 gallons, over 8 firkins)
2017: 105L brewed (need to update this figure)
Drinking: Landlord clone
Conditioning: ciders from 2016, hedgerow barrolo, 1914 Courage RIS (10%).
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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby HTH1975 » Sun Jan 31, 2016 01:53

Just as a thought, I'm gonna try another brew but rinse everything in a pan of boiling water after the star-san, just to rule out the sanitiser causing off flavours.

2016: 330L brewed (72 gallons, over 8 firkins)
2017: 105L brewed (need to update this figure)
Drinking: Landlord clone
Conditioning: ciders from 2016, hedgerow barrolo, 1914 Courage RIS (10%).
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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby Goulders » Sun Jan 31, 2016 06:29

Star San won't (shouldn't) cause off flavours. If you use a bleach product to clean your FV, consider PBW or oxi product instead.
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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby GrahamT » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:56

HTH1975 wrote:Just as a thought, I'm gonna try another brew but rinse everything in a pan of boiling water after the star-san, just to rule out the sanitiser causing off flavours.


There are so many variables in our hobby, that I think it is best to cut as many of them down as possible by accepting some things as 'best practice'. No rinse sanitisers are used throughout the brewing/catering industry. As long as you've used Star San correctly and not left an excessive amount undrained, I'd move on to the next thing. Extra handling only increases the chance of contamination from that point IMHO. When in doubt, I tend to look at what the majority of professionals do.

It's like rehydrating yeast: many homebrewers make great beer without doing it, but the science I read tells me to do it. So I do, and move on to the next thing.

Speaking from my own experience, it's so easy to get hung up on one particular thing causing off-tastes, that you can neglect other areas of the next few brews, and you end up going around chasing your tail.

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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby HTH1975 » Sun Jan 31, 2016 12:24

I'm quite an organised and detailed person - I read up on this for six weeks solid every night to get the procedure clear in my mind. The sterilisation I'm very careful with as I know infections will spoil the whole batch - I preserve my own chillis, so I've successfully sterilised and preserved before.

My only thought on what is 'common' between the three brews is the no-rinse oxyclean I've used. That stuff is all gone now and I bought star-san instead.

I had planned some stouts/porters as my next brews, but I'm thinking those beers could cover up this weird taste I'm getting. So I'm thinking that a SMASH beer might let flavours shine a bit better.

I'm also gonna rinse off the sanitising solution off before it comes into contact with wort by having a pot of boiling water handy.

2016: 330L brewed (72 gallons, over 8 firkins)
2017: 105L brewed (need to update this figure)
Drinking: Landlord clone
Conditioning: ciders from 2016, hedgerow barrolo, 1914 Courage RIS (10%).
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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby Springer » Sun Jan 31, 2016 12:49

HTH1975 wrote:On my first brew I used bottled water and an extract kit.

On my second brew it was tap water and pump to recirculate the wort.


You seem to be having a hard time H, brewing good beer is not hard. :)
Stick to one recipe and method and get that sorted before dodging about is my advice. From your explanation it must be a fermentation problem ?
Describe how you made brew 2 and 3, from start to end ?
Are you BIABing or conventional brewing. Sparging is mentioned but if you are at 25 litre? I don't see the pump and "recirculating wort" bit with conventional brewing. Don't see the need for a pump :scratch:
I think we are missing something obvious here ? :D
S

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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby GrahamT » Sun Jan 31, 2016 12:56

Homebrew club this Tuesday in Scarborough, if you don't mind the drive! Willing mouths, plenty of half-cut expert [cough] opinions, though you'd be quicker in to Leeds for a meet there.

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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby graysalchemy » Sun Jan 31, 2016 13:11

I tend to agree with Aleman on this its not often he is wrong about these things. Your brewing procedures over the brews have been so varied that its not going to be water, and sanitisers just wouldn't make something acidic.

The only thing that could make beer acidic in your circumstances is infection. How long do you leave your bee in the FV? do you use a secondary? You said you used no-rinse oxyclean did you sanitise after that? Oxyclean is a cleaner not a sanitiser.

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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby GrahamT » Sun Jan 31, 2016 13:35

Chemipro Oxi does bill itself as a sanitiser, GA, if it's something like that.

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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby graysalchemy » Sun Jan 31, 2016 13:57

Ok if that is the case, but I still thinks its sanitation.

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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby GrahamT » Sun Jan 31, 2016 14:20

Sorry, I wasn't disagreeing about it being sanitation, just that there's probably no benefit rinsing star San, to which he OP's now switched.

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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby HTH1975 » Sun Jan 31, 2016 16:50

I thought that those oxy-clean products were sanitisers?!?!?! (confused). If that's not the case, then it seems likely to be infection.

I'm brewing a stout as we speak - I washed everything thoroughly in star-san, then rinsed with boiling water a few times. When I say thorough, this took two hours. I also ran star-san through my mash tun (recirculated) for about half an hour, then flushed it with boiling water for about the same time.

If I'm missing something with sanitising, please let me know.

btw, the recirculation pump is just to get a clear wort and set the grain bed - it's essentially lautering while mashing to clear up the wort. From what I've read, this should be a good thing to do. I doubt this is the cause of my problems, as it was not part of my first extract kit brew.

Scarborough is a 90 minute drive for me, so it's just a bit far - Leeds is much easier (45-60 mins depending where in Leeds).

Many thanks for the help so far - I'll get this cracked :0)

2016: 330L brewed (72 gallons, over 8 firkins)
2017: 105L brewed (need to update this figure)
Drinking: Landlord clone
Conditioning: ciders from 2016, hedgerow barrolo, 1914 Courage RIS (10%).
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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby HTH1975 » Sun Jan 31, 2016 17:11

to elaborate further, I'm left my first extract beer in the primary for 14 days, then bottle conditioned for 2 weeks before trying. That was at xmas and it's still the same, except the hop aroma has died off a little.

The second/third brews (parti-gyle) were AG. They've now stopped fermenting (it's been a week now), and there is no signs of active fermentation. They've been fermenting at 18C, but now moved to slightly warmer cupboard where the hot water tank sits for diacetyl rest. It's only 2-4C warmer in that cupboard.

I plan to move to secondary to get the wort off the trub and leave for another week in secondary before bottling. Will be conditioning at 12C (ish).

I've read that leaving the wort on the trub is ok for up to a month, but opinions vary on this.

The biggest concern is that after a week I've got that same 'off' sour note to the wort, despite totally different ways of making the beers so far.

Logic says that it's got to be a fermentation issue or infection.

2016: 330L brewed (72 gallons, over 8 firkins)
2017: 105L brewed (need to update this figure)
Drinking: Landlord clone
Conditioning: ciders from 2016, hedgerow barrolo, 1914 Courage RIS (10%).
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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby Springer » Sun Jan 31, 2016 17:19

You don't need to sanitize anything used before the boiler, boiling will do that job. i.e. only the fermenter and things that might come into contact with the wort need cleaning and sanitiziing. There are cleaner, sanitisers and things that do both jobs.
"Normal "oxy is a cleaner only, needs rinsing off, don't know about the stuff that you use ? Starsan will only work if things have been cleaned before using it. Starsan is normally used because of its no rinse benefit, you are wasting a lot of time and expense with your method IMO.
S
Edit 14 days in the fermenter for the first one, could explain its problem.
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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby rpt » Sun Jan 31, 2016 17:47

If you sanitised with oxyclean then that could be the issue as it is not a proper sanitiser. Starsan is great (at the right concentration) and should not be rinsed. What water are you making up the Starsan with? If it is too hard or alkaline then it might result in too high a pH to be effective.

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Re: weird off flavour, possibly water?

Postby GrahamT » Sun Jan 31, 2016 18:20

In summary from me:

Keep everything as clean as possible in between brews.

Wash everything on the cold side in between brews with pound shop Oxi and soak for 30 mins if possible; rinse well.

Make up Star San with dead cheap Tesco Ashbeck water (RO water if you have a cheap source). Test pH is 3.5 or below. When it goes cloudy, chuck it (because it is forming soap, which we don't want in our beer. As long as it's pH 3.5 or lower, it will sanitise.)

Sanitise everything on the cold side within minutes (rather than hours) of use, and drain pretty well.

Keep all operations away from fruit, veg, big drafts and all obvious forms of airborne contamination. Pitch plenty of healthy yeast to outcompete other organisms.

40 grain brews or so from me, all with that method, and only one that has a question mark of infection (I don't think it did, but I'm not 100% sure.)

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